Delaying the Real World

A Twentysomething's Guide to Seeking Adventure

The Ten Pillars of Delaying the Real World

Throughout Delaying the Real World you'll come across quotes and anecdotes from twentysomethings who've played their independence the right way and taken off running down the road less traveled. The tales and tips of these wise young folks echo one another and all point to a few crucial bits of advice. Follow these great pillars and you'll be off to an impeccable start in life:

  1. Thou Shall Not Rush in Vain. This is a crucial truth to get through your antsy little mind. Repeat after me: THERE IS NO RUSH! Many of the young adventurers who contributed to this book mentioned how they were initially nervous about "taking a year off" while peers dove into the real world. They later saw that they hadn't missed a beat and could pick right back up in Normalville (if they wanted to, that is). In the meantime, while everyone else had mastered PowerPoint, they'd gained invaluable experience out in the wide world that helped them sort out their goals. Considering you will likely retire in your late sixties isn't rushing into a monotonous grind a tad ludicrous?

  2. Remember What Year You're Living In and Keep It Holy. In order to make a good decision today you don't have to know what you want to do twenty years from now. Throw the question "What should I do with my life?" to the dogs and just handle your next step as a twentysomething. Take a minute to imagine a situation in which you might thrive, rise to challenges, and feel satisfied every day that you work. Sound easier than charting your entire professional career? Just a bit.

  3. Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Salary. Trust me, it's not worth envying. Most people who get high paying jobs right out of college end up giving up their lives in exchange for money that they don't have time to spend. Be willing to live on less and you'll buy yourself priceless freedom.

  4. Vary, Vary, Not the Contrary! Don't think everything you do has to be neatly related to your background and future goals. Having a diverse array of experiences can be even more impressive than a perfectly coordinated resume. The earlier you diversify and dabble in a number of areas and jobs, the quicker you will find your way to what you really love. Once there, your previous stints will come in handy. You might bring to the table expertise that no one else in your venue can provide. Never hesitate to vary.

  5. Blessed Are the Adventurous, They Will Stay That Way (and Then Inherit the Earth!). Don't underestimate the power of momentum. One pattern I've noticed among peers is that people who start off their twenties doing interesting things usually keep right on doing them. My theory was confirmed when I emailed young adventurers to gather tips and anecdotes. My token Alaskan wilderness tour guide was now finishing a novel and planning a volunteer vacation in Belarus (and by the way, did she mention she was in the Peace Corps and hitchhiked across Ireland?). My poster child for around-the-world traveler was currently job hunting in Boston, but PS-Ed that he would be in Havana (where I was, delaying the real world Cuban style) for an educational trip next week and might I want to meet up for a mojito? Let the serial adventurers of this book illuminate the power of momentum for you. Do yourself a favor this year and it may just last for life. Most people who have interesting jobs got them by doing interesting things first.

  6. A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Google Search. So said one insightful contributor to the book, and she couldn't be more right. You can access millions of opportunities and acquaint yourself with just about any organization or potential employer through the Internet. In fact, your real challenge will not be finding enough information, but sifting through the excess of it. The best approach is to copy and paste all of the information that appeals to you onto one word document. Once you are through web browsing, you can format the document to your liking and compare all of the options you have amassed. For example, a global volunteer program that was the first link on your web search might have a six thousand-dollar program fee. A similar organization listed a few pages later in your search results might actually pay you a monthly stipend. Laying all of the information out in on one printable document will also gather all phone numbers and contact details in one place. Once you start eliminating some possibilities and focusing in on others, you can easily highlight and write notes in the margins of your printed record (ie. "Called and spoke to director. Said to call back Tuesday.") Make things easy for yourself from the beginning.

  7. If It Seems Like a Long Shot, Shoot Long. One of the most remarkable things about the success stories in this book is that many of them came about through a move that seemed impossibly ambitious at first, then all too easy when it actually worked. Take Arianne Page-Eighty-Eight, for example. She was web browsing late one night and came across an English-language paper in Cambodia that piqued her interest. While others might have assumed that the publication was large (since the website was fancy) and that the editors would think she is a little American punk if she contacted them without reason (like a job posting), Arianne Page-Eighty-Eight decided she had nothing to lose. The publication might have been a three-man operation for all she knew! She shot the editor a carefully crafted email and he got back to her in minutes with an eager reply: We'd love to have you! Remember, people don't always publicize their needs. If you cold-call or email someone and display your passion for their line of work, they are likely to be impressed by you. Pay attention to how many of the contributors to this book made their plans a reality by taking a step that most other people wouldn't consider taking. Have some balls and always reach farther than you think you can.

  8. If Money Is Standing in Your Way, Plow it Down. You will notice that many of the young dreamers featured in the pages ahead faced serious financial difficulties. If you are like most youngins' and don't have a penny to your name, you'll just have to search a bit harder, send out a dozen more applications or resumes, and log in more hours of grunt work before making your grand plans a reality. There is no adventure listed in this book, perhaps with the exception of the pricey trek up Mount Everest, that could not be financed through some hardcore minimum wage work or temping. There are also plenty of cool jobs, internships, and volunteer programs that offer loan deferment and financial aid. Don't let money be your excuse to be lame; take it as a challenge.

  9. Just. Do. It. Could that sound any simpler? Yet it's by far the hardest step: actually carrying out those plans that seem too good to be true. This book can inspire your pants off, but in the end, it's up to you to score...(ahem), the mind-blowing job, I mean. The stories ahead illustrate how things have a tendency to fall in place once you take the first leap of faith. Moving abroad, for example, seems like such a drastic life decision that we want to have everything perfectly in place before buying the ticket. However, many young adventurers said that it didn't so much matter what they set up, but that they went ahead and made the move. Once in a foreign country, you can navigate through the opportunities much more easily and countless doors open. Of course it's a good idea to do your homework, but don't let the logistics keep you from committing to what you really want to do. Make a promise to yourself first-write it down if you think it will help-then dive into the practical questions of how you are going to make it happen. Be ready to act before you know exactly what you are getting yourself into.

  10. Redefine Real. In one way or another, every contributor to this book expressed that their adventures exposed them to a world more real than any fluorescent-lighted cubicle could have. They all swear by the value of what they pursued and insist they are fuller, more knowledgeable, worldlier people for doing something "a little different" than their peers. And lastly—the best test of a good decision—none of them have a regret to speak of. Neither will you.

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